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5 ways integrated back-office systems increase restaurant efficiency

POS System
Photograph: Shutterstock

Think about your back-office systems, including those used for purchasing, accounts payable, inventory management, recipe and menu engineering and scheduling. What do they look like? Are they standalone systems, or are they fully integrated? Do these systems communicate seamlessly with one another? Do some talk to one another, while others can’t? How is data shared among your platforms? Is your team spending hours manually inputting it? Is correlating the data to pull a report also a manual task?

If these questions are uncovering an uncomfortable truth, you’ve got an incredible opportunity to increase your efficiency, eliminate dual keying, simplify workflows, and deliver better business insights.

The right technology can help. For example, when point of sale (POS) systems can seamlessly integrate with menu prep, HR, scheduling and purchasing, data is shared instantly among them. This integration can help you streamline your operations, remove error, save time and deliver savings to your bottom line.

See the whole picture

Cobbled-together systems make it difficult to optimize workflow. While some components may be able to share data, it’s near impossible to get a holistic view of what’s going on. That quickly translates to missed opportunities in getting ahead of trends. Meanwhile, the lack of full-picture visibility into your data makes accurate reporting difficult, so it’s hard to react and adjust the course.

Instead of a tangle of systems with data falling through the cracks, a fully integrated back-office solution can give you clear behind-the-scenes insight. Data can be easily accessed and correlated at the touch of a button, so you can track progress against core KPIs and make better (and more informed) decisions more quickly.

With fully integrated analytics, you can uncover previously hidden insights from workforce data, purchasing, POS, sentiment data from review sites, presence data, mystery diners and much more. Seeing the whole picture makes it easier to identify trends and will help your restaurant run more smoothly, more efficiently and more profitably.  

Reduce the administrative burden and eliminate errors

Many restaurants rely on a variety of standalone systems to get through different tasks, which means staff have to check for things in many places, juggle multiple programs and system logins and spend time rekeying data. This makes for a heavy mental load for your staff, and the potential for error abounds.

Fully integrated systems ensure that the most up-to-date data flows through the system, strengthening your analytics power and improving overall accuracy. It also frees up your staff to focus on profit-driving tasks for your business instead of the back-office busywork. And by integrating other solutions into the core back-office platform, staff can access all the tools they need using a single username and password.

Improve customer satisfaction

Managers who are stuck in the back office entering (and re-entering) data and sorting through administrative busywork can’t be in the front of house, helping boost team morale, addressing customer concerns before situations escalate, reinforcing your restaurant’s values and culture or touching tables.

When managers and staff are equipped with the right tools to do their jobs well, frustrations and mental burdens are eased, making for more relaxed and happier employees. After all, happy employees make for happy customers.

Plus, fully integrated systems will give you better insight into how many employees you need to meet the demand, so you don’t end up with frantic, understaffed shifts, or too many servers standing around bored during quiet shifts. You can also see which dishes your top performers are to help ensure you have everything you need on hand so you don’t run out of guest favorites.

Optimize vendor performance

Integrated data reveals patterns and trends, giving you tangible data to show which vendors are consistently late, which are delivering products that are unusable or damaged, which may be regularly exceeding your expectations or are always on time, which have the best pricing and which are delivering inaccurate or incomplete orders. Equipped with this information, you can better manage your vendor relationships, negotiate better pricing and re-evaluate vendors who do not meet your expectations. When you are better able to accurately track vendor spend, you’ll also be able to take full advantage of available discounts, rebates or bulk pricing.

Get the right people at the right time

Integrating your back-office systems will also have a major positive impact on workforce management. Scheduling takes up an enormous amount of time for any manager. Done incorrectly, you not only have disgruntled employees, but also a big dent in your profit margin. The right scheduling tool will look at trends like weather, holidays and local events, and, layered with local managerial expertise, will be able to predict what menu items are most likely to sell. With a clearer understanding of exactly what items you’ll be selling, your mangers will be able to schedule the right people to prepare and serve them. Instead of estimating the number of employees to put on a given shift based on budgets or covers, you’ll be able to more accurately forecast labor demands and staff accordingly.

Regardless of the size of your organization, integrating your back-office systems just makes sense. Examine your current back office components—and then work towards an integration that will allow you to seamlessly link your systems, easily maintain data connections, create automated workflows and reporting, and communicate key findings across your teams. The right technology here will help make this transition as smooth as possible.

Download our free Integrated Back-Office Restaurant Systems white paper to get started. If you’d like to talk about how Fourth’s technology can help your restaurant achieve more, give us a call at 203-838-3700.

This post is sponsored by Fourth

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